If haredim who avoid army service are punished with personal sanctions, leftist
peace activists and secular draft evaders should also be fined, sources close to
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were quoted as saying Sunday.
Keshev Committee – tasked with finding an alternative to the “Tal Law,” which
would equalize the burden of IDF service – reached a stalemate over the weekend
due to a dispute between Netanyahu and Kadima on whether benefits should be cut
from ultra-Orthodox individuals or only their religious
The prime minister’s associates raised the issue of
leftist evaders to point out that haredim should not be punished for their
ideology. Left-wing organizations blasted them for making the comparison between
haredim and conscientious objectors.
“What they said shows a complete
lack of understanding of democracy,” said Ishai Menuhin, chairman of Amnesty
International Israel. “Sanctioning those on the Left who do not want to be part
of an occupying army or those on the Right who oppose abandoning the Land of
Israel would be wrong.”
“Those whose conscience does not permit them to
take part in one kind of army or another should be allowed to fulfill their debt
to society in a different way and not via army service,” Menuhin
Roy Yellin, who serves as a spokesman for several left-wing
organizations, said those on the Left who avoid the army do so legally and those
who do so illegally are thrown in jail. He accused Netanyahu of trying to
distract the public from his efforts to help the haredim continue to evade
Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer said he opposes
refusing orders to serve on an ideological basis.
“If the prime minister
wants to present the Left as refusing, he should first deal with the Right,
where there are many more people who have refused to serve since the
disengagement from the Gaza Strip,” Openheimer said.